Apple’s Daisy robot recycles iPhones

In April 2018, the brand created an innovative robot to reduce its ecological footprint. Daisy sorts the components of nine iPhone models for recycling.

In one hour, Daisy can dismantle and sort the components of 200 smartphones.

Since the first iPhone went on the market in 2007, more than 7 billion smartphones have been sold worldwide across all brands. An extension of our hands and our brain that we regularly replace as the makers develop ever more innovative models. According to ADEME, in France people change cell phones every two years - even though they still work.

As a result, it is estimated that at least 30 million devices are lying around un

Since the first iPhone went on the market in 2007, more than 7 billion smartphones have been sold worldwide across all brands. An extension of our hands and our brain that we regularly replace as the makers develop ever more innovative models. According to ADEME, in France people change cell phones every two years - even though they still work.

As a result, it is estimated that at least 30 million devices are lying around unused in drawers. Raw materials – in particular rare metals - that could be recovered and used to make new cell phones. Essential to the operation of our smartphones, these rare metal resources are being exhausted as technological innovation accelerates. For example, based on current indium extraction rates - the material used to make our cell phone screens - resources will be exhausted within eleven years.

There’s no doubt about it. If we want to continue to use smartphones in the coming decades, it is crucial to extend the life of these rare metals. This includes developing efficient recycling methods to maintain the quality of the raw materials. And that is exactly what Apple, the American giant, is doing – as are manufacturers or operators such as Orange in France.

 

Robot dismantler

For several years now, Apple has been trying to reduce its ecological footprint. Reconditioning, using recycled materials and buildings powered by renewable energy are among the measures it employs.

Apple is now tackling the problem of resource depletion. It has developed Daisy, a robot that can recover rare raw materials from discarded smartphones. Presented April 22, 2018 on World Earth Day, Daisy is not Apple’s first robot. In 2016, the firm introduced Liam, a robot that only helped recycle the iPhone 6. In particular, Liam was able to extract tungsten, a metal widely used in new technologies.

Daisy does better than Liam by dismantling nine different iPhone models: iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, iPhone SE, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus. Note however that it does not include the iPhone X generation.

Screen, battery, screws, sensors, memory card, wireless charging coil, aluminum shell... In one hour, Daisy can dismantle and sort the components of 200 smartphones. Each component is then sent to recyclers who remove the still usable the materials. These are then sold on the secondary raw materials market and used to make new smartphones.

 

Preserving quality

An important point, Apple says that Daisy can recover materials without affecting their quality. The robot differs in this respect from "existing [recycling] techniques, such as grinding, which only recover a few types of materials and often reduce their quality," says the brand in its 2018 environmental responsibility report. .

"We will continue to push the boundaries of what is possible when it comes to the materials in our products, the way we recycle them [...]. We know that our future depends on it," said Tim Cook, Apple's CEO. To encourage consumers to return their old smartphones, Apple has since 2015 offered a free recycling service or the possibility of handing in an old cell in exchange for a discount on the purchase of a new smartphone.used in drawers. Raw materials – in particular rare metals - that could be recovered and used to make new cell phones. Essential to the operation of our smartphones, these rare metal resources are being exhausted as technological innovation accelerates. For example, based on current indium extraction rates - the material used to make our cell phone screens - resources will be exhausted within eleven years.

There’s no doubt about it. If we want to continue to use smartphones in the coming decades, it is crucial to extend the life of these rare metals. This includes developing efficient recycling methods to maintain the quality of the raw materials. And that is exactly what Apple, the American giant, is doing – as are manufacturers or operators such as Orange in France.
 

CREDITS: Main picture ©Noemie Rosset / Veolia

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